Tampa, Fla., and Broken Arrow, Okla., took top honors in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ City Livability Awards Program recognizing their mayors’ work to improve local quality of life.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was recognized for the “Stay and Play Program,” which is aimed at giving at-risk teens a place to go and something to do. The program has provided free admission to more than 70,000 teens to community centers and pools on summer nights. The city says it has helped lead to a reduction in drugs and gang violence in East Tampa.
Broken Arrow Mayor Craig Thurmond was recognized for a redevelopment plan for a new arts and entertainment area in the city’s historic but declining area known as the Rose District. Thurmond’s office worked to recruit new businesses to the area, which the city says has brought more than 1,000 new jobs into the once troubled area. Local property tax collections have increased by nearly $4 million and local sales tax collections have also gone up.
“Not so long ago, Main Street was almost derelict, with very few businesses and zero foot traffic,” Thurmond said. “Today, residents and visitors will find a vibrant downtown with unique restaurants, local artisan products, entertainment and cultural experiences that have transformed our Rose District into one of the most popular destinations in the region.”
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